Recovering America’s Wildlife Act: Helping Wildlife, Business

Posted in Advocacy, conservation, Education, News, Oklahoma Wildlife, Partners

Recovering America’s Wildlife Act Offers Exceptional Opportunity To Help Wildlife and Business in Oklahoma

With fish and wildlife populations under increasing pressure in Oklahoma and throughout the country, Oklahomans are excited for a new opportunity to reverse this trend. House Resolution 4647, known as the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, would provide $1.3 billion annually from existing federal revenues for state-led projects to improve and restore fish and wildlife habitats, without any increase in taxes. Fox

This Congressional legislation represents a once in a generation opportunity to modernize conservation funding, provide more regulatory certainty for businesses and industries, repair the nation’s ecological infrastructure, and change the course of history for thousands of at-risk fish and wildlife species.

U.S. Representatives Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI) introduced the bipartisan legislation on Thursday, December 14 with nationwide support from conservationists, hunters, anglers, businesspeople, oil and gas company representatives, and the outdoor recreation industry.  Oklahoma’s share of the funding is estimated at more than $20 million per year.

“Over 12,000 species of fish and wildlife have been identified as at risk of becoming endangered,” said Ron Suttles, Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma board chair.  “Oklahoma is home to over 300 of those species.  The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would bring much-needed funding to Oklahoma for projects designed to keep those species off the endangered species list without raising or creating new taxes.”

Businesses, industries, and government agencies often face delays and added costs when developing projects in areas with endangered species. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act focuses on at-risk species with the express goal of avoiding listing those species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Passage of H.R. 4647 would direct a portion of existing royalties from energy and mineral production on federal lands and waters to the Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program, established in 2000. State wildlife agencies will distribute the money to projects for habitat restoration, scientific research, protecting land, establishing conservation easements, and other initiatives listed in each state’s Wildlife Action Plan. 

insect-bee-pollen-indiana-mark-brinegar“The future of Oklahoma’s wildlife depends on dedicated funding. This is our best opportunity to manage and conserve our valuable natural resources for the public,” said J.D. Strong, Director of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “With this money, Oklahoma could protect, improve and manage habitat that would benefit all species in the state and keep up the economic engine that is fueled by healthy ecosystems and thriving wildlife populations. Wildlife and wild places are appreciated by all Oklahomans and this bill would ensure that we are able to pass on these resources on to the next generations.”

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act follows the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources. This panel, comprised of national business and conservation leaders, was convened in 2015 to identify a sustainable funding mechanism for fish and wildlife conservation. In March 2016, the Panel recommended that $1.3 billion in existing fees from energy and mineral production on federal lands and waters be used to support the implementation of State Wildlife Action Plans in every state.

The Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma is a coalition of conservation organization and businesses that: serve as the collective voice for conservation; advance sound conservation policy; and develop tomorrow’s conservationists.


 Click here to make your voice heard and sign the letter in support of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act!

View the full text of the bill here.

New Attempt to Muddy Clean Water Protections

Posted in Advocacy, conservation, News, Partners

The following is from our partners at the National Wildlife Federation on the Clean Water Rule:

The Trump Administration has just begun a two-step plan to remove protections from waters that have been safeguarded by the Clean Water Act for more than 40 years. In a process set in motion by an executive order earlier this year, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt has taken the first step to repeal the widely-supported Clean Water Rule. The second step is replacing it with a new rule that dramatically rolls back the historic scope of the Clean Water Act.

This hasty process threatens critical fish and wildlife habitat as well as the drinking water sources for 1 in 3 Americans.

The 2015 Clean Water Rule restores protections to small streams and wetlands that flow downstream into our nation’s larger, iconic waters like Chesapeake Bay, Mississippi River, and the Great Lakes. These headwaters, rain-fed, and seasonal streams serve as spawning grounds, trout streams, and nesting habitat for the majority of North American waterfowl. These same waters are the source of drinking water of 117 million Americans.

The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers developed the Clean Water Rule after years of extensive public engagement and used the best available science and law to inform the final rule-making. During a seven month comment period, the EPA met with more than 400 stakeholders and received more than one million public comments on the rule, 87% of which were supportive. A wide range of stakeholders supported the rule – including 83% of hunters and anglers.

And now we have to do it all over again.

This time though, the Administration’s process intentionally provides very little opportunity for the many clean water stakeholders and affected communities to voice their support for a strong Clean Water Act to safeguard our drinking water and outdoor heritage. The public only has 30 days to provide input on this repeal.

February’s executive order directs the agencies to “consider” Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion in a Supreme Court case when rewriting a rule that defines which waters are protected by the Clean Water Act. The majority of the Supreme Court – along with the Bush and Obama administrations and every federal court of appeals to consider it since – rejected this opinion as inconsistent with the Clean Water Act.

This process contradicts the law and science that is the basis for the Clean Water Act successes of the past four decades, crippling state and federal clean water initiatives.

Small streams and headwaters serve as salmon spawning grounds which are important for everyone who loves to fish – including brown bears. Photo by Kandace Heimerr.

Rolling back the Clean Water Act in this manner could mean the loss of protections for nearly 60% of streams in the lower 48 states that don’t flow year-round. It could threaten protections for the majority of the 110 million acres of wetlands in the continental United States. It could make things worse for low income communities and communities of color that already disproportionally lack access to clean drinking water. It could expose wetlands that many communities rely on for flood protection to the threat of destruction.

If these waters lose the protection afforded them by the Clean Water Act, it would have devastating impacts on fish, wildlife, and our robust outdoor recreation economy – not to mention the water quality of the streams that provide our drinking water.

Whether for drinking, swimming, fishing, boating, or brewing, we all need clean water. And for clean water, we need strong federal Clean Water Act safeguards, not haphazard rules that disregard the science, contradict the law, and ignore public input. We need to move forward, not be set back four decades.

Take ActionAdd your voice today. Tell the EPA that you oppose any action to repeal the Clean Water Rule and efforts to diminish the common-sense protections that have safeguarded our nation’s waters for decades.

Statement On 2018 Farm Bill For Senate Committee on Agriculture

Posted in Advocacy, conservation, News, Partners

National Wildlife Federation CCO_Logo_2016_V

Today, The National Wildlife Federation, along with the Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma and other NWF affiliates, submitted a statement for the record for the Senate Committee on Agriculture’s Field Hearing on the upcoming Farm Bill. 

“By investing more in the Farm Bill’s conservation programs, Congress would be investing in Oklahoma’s communities and wildlife habitats,” said Ron Suttles, Board Chair for the Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma. “These programs are extremely popular with our farming and ranching community and also provide long-term benefits to some of our favorite nesting species like quail, pheasants, and wild turkeys. If we can successfully increase funding and acreage for Farm Bill conservation initiatives such as the Conservation Reserve Program, that would be really beneficial to Oklahoma’s farming and ranching community, wildlife, and taxpayers at the same time.”

“We at the National Wildlife Federation are excited to get to work with Chairman Roberts, Ranking Member Stabenow, and the members of the committee on the 2018 Farm Bill,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “The Farm Bill’s voluntary conservation programs have a tremendous ability to conserve and restore vital wildlife habitats in cost-effective ways, while enjoying broad support with producers and engaging rural communities.”

“The next Farm Bill needs to increase the funding and capacity of popular programs like the Conservation Reserve Program and expand the “sodsaver” provision nationwide to help reduce the conversion of native grassland and wildlife habitat. The National Wildlife Federation is eager to work with Congress to find ways to increase funding for these programs so that producers can continue to improve soil health, restore water quality, and increase wildlife populations, all while strengthening rural economies.” 

Learn more about our partner, the National Wildlife Federation at www.nwf.org.

Important Public Input for Parks in Oklahoma

Posted in Partners

The following is from our friends at Oklahoma State University and the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department:

Every five years the State of Oklahoma is required to develop a Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) to continue eligibility for certain federal grant programs. These grant programs and the statewide plan are directly beneficial to local communities and to Oklahoma through planning and development of infrastructure and economic development. Oklahoma State University has contracted with the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department to prepare the SCORP.

As a member of the public interested in parks and recreation, your responses to an online survey are important because you will be representing your community in this planning effort. Because of this, the information you provide will help us plan for future recreation needs and continue Oklahoma’s eligibility for several federal grant programs. 

Please click on the link (https://goo.gl/Q1czeQ) to complete the online survey. The survey will take about 15 to 20 minutes to complete. Staff at OSU will be conducting the data analysis and preparing the report for the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. Your voice is extremely important in planning for the future!

If you have any questions about this project at any time, please contact Dr. Fatemeh (Tannaz) Soltani, Research Assistant Professor at OSU by phone at (405) 744-9166 or by email attannaz.soltani@okstate.edu.

Fatemeh (Tannaz) Soltani, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor
Department of Geography
Oklahoma State University

Lowell Caneday, Ph.D.
Regents Professor Emeritus
Oklahoma State University

APWAOK/OWEA Joint Conference Call for Abstracts

Posted in conservation, News, Partners

Call for Abstracts

The deadline has been extended for abstracts for the American Public Works Association Oklahoma Chapter and the Oklahoma Water Environmental Association joint conference.

Share your knowledge with the Oklahoma public works and water environment community by January 13, 2017. Fill out the electronic submission form at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/J9HG8PW.

For more information about the conference, click here or contact Billy Cyganovich of the APWA at 918-949-6171 or bill@cowangroup.com or Mary Elizabeth Mach of the OWEA at 405-329-2555 or  MEMach@GarverUSA.com.